Italy’s attacking prowess proved too much for Scotland in Rome as the hosts won the battle to avoid the wooden spoon in the Under-20s Six Nations.
The hosts ran in seven tries to seal a bonus-point victory in the final round, picking up their second win of the Championship after last week’s historic triumph against Wales.
Scotland got off to the worst possible start when Italy winger Albert Batista touched down in the corner in the opening five minutes, with Antonio Rizzi missing the difficult conversion.
The early score appeared to knock the visitors’ confidence and the Azzuri soon extended their advantage through Matteo Luccardi, who was on the end of a powerful lineout drive.
Rizzi made no mistake with the kick to add the extras this time as Italy raced into a 12-0 lead, but Scotland responded with a score of their own on 24 minutes.
Paddy Dewhirst showed his pace to sprint to the corner and get the away side on the scoreboard, with Ross Thompson’s conversion cutting Italy’s lead further.
However, Italy continued to look threatening on the attack and a break from Antoine Koffi set up Alessandro Forcucci for the hosts’ third try.
A fourth score – and the bonus point – followed just minutes later when Forcucci pounced on a loose pass for his second try, which Rizzi successfully converted.
With things looking bleak for Scotland, captain Stafford McDowall twisted his way over the whitewash to give his side some hope. Thompson added the extras as the visitors trailed 24-14 at the half-time break.
Scotland closed the gap to within three points soon after the interval, with multiple phases setting up Logan Trotter to cross in the corner, as Thompson converted his third kick.
Just as Scotland appeared to be building momentum, though, Italy struck again as Danilo Fischetti finished off a clever lineout move, before Rizzi added the extras to make it 31-21.
Thompson’s penalty brought Scotland to within a score again, but Italy soon dealt another blow to the Scottish hopes when prop Danilo Fischetti crashed over.
With two converted scores now required, the visitors started to take more risks and Italy capitalised when substitute Alessandro Fusco intercepted a pass and sprinted over the line from 20 metres out, with Rizzi’s conversion extending the hosts’ lead to 45-24.
A bonus-point try for Scotland provided some consolation as Dewhirst picked up his second score, while Thompson maintained his perfect record from the tee.
But one win from their five games was not enough to prevent Scotland Under-20s finishing the 2018 edition of the Championship at the bottom of the table.